Addiction and Brain Activity illustrated on Brown Blackboard

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STANFORD, Calif. — An “anti-hunger” pill could be on the horizon, according to a new study. Researchers from Stanford Medicine and Baylor University have identified a molecule that keeps people from getting hungry after exercising.

In experiments, the compound dramatically reduced food intake and obesity in mice. Study authors hope to turn it into a medication that may even replace the need to go to the gym.

“Regular exercise has been proven to help weight loss, regulate appetite and improve the metabolic profile, especially for people who are overweight and obese,” says lead author Professor Yong Xu from the Baylor College of Medicine in a statement, according to SWNS. “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise triggers these benefits, then we are closer to helping many people improve their health.”

The findings in the journal Nature shed fresh light on the links between exercise and hunger. Physical activity protects against obesity and a host of diseases.

“We’re all generally aware that exercise is beneficial. It’s good for body weight and glucose control,” says Jonathan Long, PhD, a Standford Medicine assistant professor of pathology, in a university release. “But we wanted to take a look at that concept in more detail — we wanted to see if we could dissect exercise in terms of molecules and pathways.”

Workout byproduct lowers body fat and improves glucose tolerance

The team conducted comprehensive analyses of blood plasma from mice following intense treadmill running. They identified a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe as the most significantly induced molecule.

It is synthesized from lactate, a byproduct of strenuous exercise responsible for the burning sensation in muscles, and phenylalanine, a building block of proteins. In lab rodents fed a high-fat diet, a high dose of Lac-Phe halved food intake over a period of 12 hours compared to a control group. It also didn’t affect their movement or energy expenditure. When administered to the mice for 10 days, Lac-Phe reduced consumption and body fat and improved glucose tolerance.

The researchers also identified an enzyme called CNDP2 that is involved in the production of Lac-Phe. They showed mice lacking the enzyme did not lose as much weight on an exercise regime as a control group on the same plan.

Interestingly, the team also found robust elevations in plasma Lac-Phe levels following physical activity in racehorses and humans. Data from a human exercise group showed that sprint exercise induced the most dramatic increase in plasma Lac-Phe – followed by resistance and endurance training.

“This suggests Lac-Phe is an ancient and conserved system that regulates feeding and is associated with physical activity in many animal species,” Dr. Long says, according to SWNS.

The metabolic effects of Lac-Phe were not investigated in the human participants. Further studies will be necessary to provide more insights into new therapeutic opportunities for human health.

“Our next steps include finding more details about how Lac-Phe mediates its effects in the body – including the brain,” Prof. Xu concludes. “Our goal is to learn to modulate this exercise pathway for therapeutic interventions.”

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

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  1. John Donohue says:

    Here is the anti-hunger pill: Get Off Carbohydrates.

  2. Retired Spook says:

    Sign me up!

  3. Robert Hunter says:

    Read the article. Was it an excercise article or an article about not being hungry as the weight loss trigger? Everyone knows you ned to excercise to lose weight. Burn more calories than you take in. So what was this article about?

    1. RJ says:

      “Everyone knows” isn’t actually very useful information. The article points out that a significant facet of the weight loss you describe isn’t specifically about “burn more calories,” but rather a chemical signal induced by exercise which drives a “take in fewer calories.” It’s entirely possible that this is at least as significant to weight loss as the calories burned by the act of exercise itself. Of course–and I don’t know you, so I’m not calling you out here–people who frame more exercise as morally superior to less exercise will object to the very suggestion.

    2. Patrick says:

      It’s about a pill that would prevent cravings so that people who won’t or can’t exercise are less likely to become or remain obese. Craving reduction is a key benefit of regular exercise. By isolating the mechanism that triggers appetite suppressant in people who exercise, we may be able to translate that impact to people who do not exercise. However, even if we are able to isolate that effect on pill form, there are still benefits to exercise and you should still work out if you can.

  4. M says:

    A pill cannot create the human initiative to “get off the couch and do someth9ng for yourself”

  5. Bob says:

    The fact that your hungry after working out means you need to rest, repair, and recuperate. Taking nutrients out of the equation exactly when you need it the most sounds like a terrible idea. Plus it would take longer to recover and probably feel like crap.

  6. Zach says:

    Do the work people. This world is doomed

  7. Maureen James says:

    The article is about taking the chemicals released by exercise and using them as appetite suppressants to lose weight. Losing weight by eating less. The study said that taking the chemicals did not alter how much exercise the test subjects got. Hopefully they got some exercise because being thin is not enough to be healthy because strength is important too.

    1. james says:

      Methamphetamine has always been the best weight loss pill if used properly. It gives you energy while killing your appetite. Only problem is getting to sleep. But with the legalization of pot that problem can be solved as well.

      1. Ron McKernan says:

        Lol. I prefer crack and once I lose the rest of my teeth, I won’t even be able to eat food anymore. But since I lost my job, I can’t really afford food AND crack anyway. And heroin works to really help me fall asleep after crack binges. The pounds are just melting off of me, no exercise necessary. Life is great, gonna live forever. Yeah me!!

      2. Mk says:

        Who wants to live forever? The way things are going since bidets been in office,I’d rather be dead.

      3. Mk says:


      4. Mk says:

        People think the worst when meth is mentioned,but the fact of the matter is,all the other drugs are being legalized because they found out they can do some good.Same with meth,it’s all about how it’s used. ALL THE CRAZINESS THAT COMESS WITH MOST THE DRUGS IS BECAUSE THEY r illegal. People wouldn’t be stealing and writing checks and using other people’s cc,stealing cars(well maybe)but for the.most part,if it was legal and prescribed I doubt half that bs would be going on.

      5. Kas Strait says:

        Yeah sure its the best 4 losing weight if you dont mind losing your mind, teeth, and muscle mass along with it. Also when you stop the weight comes back 2 fold. Have you ever seen a meth head in recovery? They are all oompa-loompas. I know you were being sarcastic though.

  8. Bob says:

    Better hurry!! i’m not gonna live forever!!!

  9. DJ says:

    Or cut carbs and get the same results. People take zero responsibility for their health.

    1. Mk says:

      Everybody’s different.Its not just cut the carbs and problem issues and many other things play a huge part in being able to lose or making u gain weight. Thyroid,diabetes, depression,genes etc.

  10. Blue Dog says:

    I’m a 63 year old diabetic who’s hungry all the time and isn’t healthy enough to get enough exercise. I take a walk at the mall seven days a week. I used to walk around the mall twice but now I’m exhausted after walking once. If I could lose some weight I could exercise more and get healthier.

  11. Tammy says:

    What some people don’t understand is some people are so overweight they can’t get off the couch. I have been fighting my weight all my life. I finially had gastric by-pass surgery, not through the navel but, the one where they split you from breast bone to the top of my private. Since the surgery, I have had nothing but trouble. I would rather try a pill as opposed to what I have been through so far. So far all you people who think it’s as easy as don’t eat or get up and exercise think about having 3 or 4 hundred pounds to raise up off the couch and run or ride off. Walk a mile in my shoes and see if a pill don’t look good to you

  12. Darpan Desai says:

    Please show me the way! I’ve gained 50lbs every year for the past 3 years.

  13. Debra OConnor says:

    Please help I’ve been trying and for some reason I get nowhere ????